If you play a lot of video games, you have a mental illness—at least according to the World Health Organization. Can violent gaming lead to homicidal behavior?
World Health Organization
The WHO believes you suffer from “Gaming Disorder” and wants to include that condition in the latest edition of its International Classification of Diseases. This is used along with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder to treat mental illness, reported HEATSTREAT. Both classifications are used in the United States.
Yet whether it’s a disease or not can be debated. And how they define “a lot” is unknown. Just as big of a factor is the social environment of the person playing the games.
Violent video games as a causal factor in homicide
Nevertheless, it is a causal factor in many shootings. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman (pictured) articulates the direct correlation in his seminar, Bulletproof Mind, among other places, including this interview with Lou Dobbs:
Grossman argues that the accumulative effect of violent movies, TV shows, and video games will have detrimental consequences on the unsupervised. Additionally, these sources of input will debilitate the emotionally vulnerable among us. There are no violent video games that incorporate a “don’t shoot scenario,” he says.
So unlike realistic law enforcement training where target acquisition and the decision to use deadly force (or not) are integrated, that is not the case playing violent video games. Every scenario is kill, kill, kill. Grossman specifically referenced one video game, that will not be mentioned here, as a “cop killing murder simulator.” He continued, “It is latent brainwashing.”
This author personally experienced an event in Fountain Valley, California involving a teenager that used violent video games as a successful defense in criminal court. The teen-suspect wanted to transition his video world to reality just to see what it was like. He literally played mortal combat with officers responding to a home invasion robbery, and got himself shot in the process.
So while millions of people play violent video games without turning into homicidal killers, the detrimental effect it can have on a few is undisputed, unless you’re willing to ignore the evidence.
Opposition to WHO
Needless to say, over two-dozen academics in the fields of interactive media and video games are speaking out against the move in an open letter. They say that the empirical basis for the classification suffers from fundamental issues, and that formalizing the disorder—even as a proposal—will have negative medical, scientific, public-health, societal and human rights fallout, according to the report.
They might result in premature application of diagnosis in the medical community and the treatment of abundant false-positive cases, especially for children and adolescents. Secondly, research will be locked into a confirmatory approach, rather than an exploration of the boundaries of normal versus pathological. Thirdly, the healthy majority of gamers will be affected negatively. We expect that the premature inclusion of Gaming Disorder as a diagnosis in ICD-11 will cause significant stigma to the millions of children who play video games as part of a normal, healthy life.
The academics are concerned that the classification draws from low-quality research and that it leans too much on substance abuse and gambling criteria, and isn’t based on research into video games.
But whose academics are they drawing upon, certainly not data that Lt. Col. Grossman can provide. Particularly his book, Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill.
“Gaming Disorder” is defined as “persistent or recurrent gaming behavior characterized by an impaired control over gaming.” What they are talking about is addiction to playing video games.
If “Gaming Disorder” is included in the ICD, it could lead to restrictions on marketing and advertising for video games. Consequently, that would be a game changer in more ways than one.
It would require large labels on video games warning them of their health risks, like those seen on tobacco products.
“Using symptoms reminiscent of substance abuse to apply to gaming behaviors too often pathologizes normal behavior resulting in high false positive rates,” according to Dr. Daniel Kardefelt-Winther.
“There is no evidence that video games represent a more significant addiction risk than many other potentially problematic behaviors including sex, eating, overwork, overexercize, etc.,” says Kardefelt-Winther.
That statement seems to undervalue the problems that occur due to the listed addictions. Furthermore, those behaviors generally do not lead to homicidal tendencies.
(Feature image source YouTube video)